Friday, July 31, 2015

Pistachio and Olive Tapenade

Do you love olives? Here is a recipe that I have been making for years and years.  When I looked through my archives, I was surprised that I hadn't shared it here yet.  This version of the classic tapenade does not include capers or anchovies but instead has an abundance of pistachios for crunch and delightful flavor. 

Made with both green olives with pimento and Kalamata olives, you can see the bits of pimento and pistachio in each bite.  Cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and black pepper season the mixture along with a little olive oil to hold it all together. 

This tapenade is so quick and easy to make (if you have a food processor) and can be made several days in advance, which is always a good thing when you entertain.  It's been a hit whenever I've served it.  This weekend, we host our gourmet group of 10 and this will be a little 'nibbler' I will put out with the cocktails before the first course is served. 

The original recipe comes from another Junior League cookbook, Colorado Collage.  I loved the comments that I received about other Junior League cookbooks that were recommended after a recent post and have since ordered a couple of them!  You may wonder what my fascination with Colorado cookbooks might be, being a Midwestern lady, but it's because our family would take ski trips to Colorado when our daughters still lived at home.  The cookbooks were purchased during those trips, which make them even more cherished.  They have become lost-lasting favorites. 

Summer has been wonderful and I can't believe tomorrow is August 1st!  Our oldest grandson, the almost-six-year-old-Ninja, has just begun taking soccer lessons.  The youngest, who is three, loves his Papa, Dusty Crophopper and Lightening McQueen. Evenings on the patio have been so glorious after a cool start to summer.  We love watching the deer and her fawns eat my hostas (they only eat the lighter green hostas that you see in the photo - none of the others), and the garden is offering an abundance of cut flowers to brighten our tables.

Pistachio and Olive Tapenade

Makes about 2 cups of tapenade 

Note:  My recipe uses less cilantro and garlic than the original recipe.  I you really love both, use more. Also, the original uses regular green olives without pimento, but I enjoy the added flavor of the pimento-stuffed green olives.

3/4 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives (any size)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 cloves (about 2 teaspoons) minced, fresh garlic
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

In a food processor, pulse everything except the olive oil until coarsely chopped. Add the smallest amount of olive oil first and blend with a few pulses, being careful not to turn the tapenade into a pasty consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Chill until ready to serve. Can be made two to three days in advance.

Tip - When buying fresh cilantro, don't throw out rest of the bunch when you only need a small amount for a recipe. Snip off all of the leaves, place in a colander or salad spinner, rinse or spin and dry on paper toweling. Put the clean, dry leaves in a plastic zipper bag and store in the freezer. Fresh cilantro, any time!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Simple Pickled Beets

It's that time of year again. When a trip to the garden or farmer's market yields such beautiful produce that it makes you wish it could last and last. Here is one way to prolong some of that harvest by a couple of months, at least.  If they last that long :)

Do you love beet root? I love beets just about any way...boiled, oven-roasted, hot, cold, and of course, pickled. 


My all-time most popular post is one I did on refrigerator pickles, a recipe that I got from my mother years ago. It's so simple and so delicious. One of my readers asked if beets could be used instead of cucumbers and I thought, sure, why not?  Using my mother's simple refrigerator pickle brine of sugar, vinegar, water and salt, I replaced the celery seed with a pinch of red pepper flakes for the beets.  Optionally, you could add bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cloves or switch up the vinegar used, but frankly, I love them prepared very simply, just like this.

I used golden beets just because they're my favorite and because they look so pretty :)  I think they have a slightly more mellow flavor too. They turned out so tasty and delicious pickled this way that I'm sure I will have a jar of these in the refrigerator as long as I can find beautiful, fresh beets.

Of course, use whatever beets you prefer.  Quick, easy and delicious if you're a beet lover like me.  They make a delicious snack or side to any summer meal. Beets are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, calcium and antioxidants so if you don't like red beets, try the more mellow yellow.

Simple Pickled Beets

Printable Recipe

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cups sliced, cooked beets (I like to use golden beets)

Optional additions to the brine could be cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns but I prefer them with the simple brine.

Slice leaves and most of stems from the beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem. Place beets in a large saucepan and cover with water. Cook over medium heat, covered, over medium heat until just barely tender, about 30-40 minutes. A good test, is to stick a sharp knife into the beet and if it goes partially through but hits some resistance in the center, then it's done enough. Remove from the pan and place on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, the skin will easily slide off. Remove all skin and slice off the remainder of the stem. Slice beets into quarters, lengthwise, and then into 1/4 inch slices.

Place sliced beets into a large container or jar with lid. In a separate bowl, stir vinegar, sugar, water and salt together until dissolved. Add red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over beets and refrigerate.

These can be eaten after several hours in the refrigerator but taste best in 1-2 days.

Keeps for at least 2 months, refrigerated.